Poultry farming has been gaining traction over the last few years. For Cecilia Opelokgale of Coppel Ranch Chicken Abattoirs, after completing her Animal Health and Science studies at the then Botswana University of Agriculture (BCA), now Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN), she realised there was a gap in the market.
Her field work made her notice that there was an unhygienic trend of slaughtering chickens. This motivated her business and farming desires. Although she did not have enough funds and land, she was determined to make her dream come to life, hence her decision to use her parent’ land in Serowe’s Masama PWD area in 2004.
The abattoir has since stayed afloat, paying its bills, employing people and outsourcing services. Opelokgale says this has mostly been motivated by her acquisition of highly specialised machinery, a one-of-a-kind in Southern Africa, which the National Development Bank (NDB) helped purchase and set up at her state-of-the-art abattoir.
After a terrible start of not having enough funds, she approached NDB when her business was expanding and needed machinery for slaughtering.
Upon realising that Botswana and neighbouring South Africa did not have the kind of machinery that she needed, Opelokgale explored international markets where she found just the people that she needed. She learnt that her newly found suppliers create machinery according to clients’ specifications. Whereupon she departed for the Netherlands, where she found what she wanted, got quotations and returned to apply to NDB for financial assistance in 2017.
“The application took around six months to be approved, during which time I exhausted all my avenues to procure these machines,” she says. Thankfully, NDB funded her dream with P2.2 million and extra funds amounting to P242 000 for poultry stock and P240 000 for payment of customs duty when the machinery arrived.
Opelokgale says she remains in business because of the generous extension of her loan terms by NDB. But like all businesses, she has been affected by COVID-19 due to frequent lockdowns and movement restrictions. Her research shows that if people were using the poultry abattoir, she would be slaughtering at least 40 000 chickens a month.
She has had an opportunity to win poultry supply tender of 5 500 kilograms but the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the plan. Opelokgale has identified a gap in Gaborone that the youth could fill. To that end, she recently raised an extra half-a-million pula from NDB’s Industry Support Facility.